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A: Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Charles Jewett Proposes a National Union Catalogue


In 1852 Charles C. Jewett, librarian of the Smithsonian Institution, published On the Construction of Catalogues of Libraries and Their Publication by Means of Separate Stereotyped Titles With Rules and Examples. In this work Jewett described a plan for a national union catalogue of public libraries.

"His [Jewett's] intention was to secure general uniformity of bibliographic records through a system of "stereotyping" each title. This plan would have made it possible for libraries to print annual editions of their catalogs, incorporating the titles acquired 'during the previous year in each new edition, and for the Smithsonian to print a general union catalog which would have included' both its own holdings and those of all the public libraries. The uniformity Jewett sought was to be achieved not just through stereotyping but also through use of a single set of general cataloging rules which would be used by all the libraries. In the same year Jewett published a report titled On the Construction of Catalogues of Libraries which, among other things, set forth the first American cataloging rules for establishing headings for author entries. The report contained thirty-nine rules which were based on those of Panizzi. In fact Jewett acknowledged outright that he used some of Panizzi's rules verbatim. And Jewett's stated goal of serving the needs of users also reflected Panizzi s ideas. Though his project never came to final fruition, years later his goal of compiling a union catalog was met in the United States when the National Union Catalog began publication in 1953 and in Germany as early as 1899 when the Prussian Instructions was compiled under Jewett's influence" (J R. Hufford, The Pragmatic Basis of Catalog Codes: Has the User Been Ignored [2007] 29).

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